Report: VA Gov. Northam tells residents masks will be required – ironically shortly after getting caught on camera not wearing one


RICHMOND, VA – On May 26th, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam stated that residents of the state will have to start donning masks in various places come May 29th.

This announcement followed after a selfie the governor took with a female friend at Virginia Beach over the holiday weekend showed that he wasn’t wearing a mask or social distancing, either.

It’s not exactly the best look when you’re telling people to wear masks in public and keep away from folks, while actively taking selfies and not adhering to the same advice. Northam spokesman Alena Yarmosky stated the following on May 24th about the selfie fiasco:

“He was outside yesterday and not expecting to be within six feet of anyone. This is an important reminder to always have face coverings in case situations change — we are all learning how to operate in this new normal, and it’s important to be prepared.”

The infamous “new normal” phrase can never be missed when talking about the likes of the pandemic and face masks, as it has become a phrase as cliched as Phil Swift maniacally destroying things in a Flex Seal advertisement.

During a portion of the press conference pertaining to the adorning of face masks on May 26th, Northam said that he appreciated folks holding him “accountable” for his selfie-shenanigans:

“People held me accountable and I appreciate that.”

When residents of the state of Virginia decide to go grocery shopping, dining out, and riding aboard public transport, a face covering will be required. There are certain activities, like exercising outdoors, where wearing a mask will not be required. Also, children 9 years of age or younger will not be forced to wear masks either.

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Murdered officer's grave desecrated before headstone even placed

Some have been poking fun at Governor Northam’s rule pertaining to face masks, with jokes either aimed at his hypocritical selfie or managing to tie in his blackface snafu from his past.

Liberty University president Jerry Lamon Falwell Jr. was among those poking fun, noting on Twitter that he may craft a personalized face mask emblazoned with the governor’s infamous blackface photo from the 1980s:

“I was adamantly opposed to the mandate from [Governor Northam] requiring citizens to wear face masks until I decided to design my own. If I am ordered to wear a mask, I will reluctantly comply, but only if this picture of Governor Blackface himself is on it!”

Scattered online through various comments sections regarding the governor’s mandates have been the likes of folks saying “do as I say, not as I do,” and other variations of that expression. Whether or not the governor intended to be flagrant in his actions is purely speculation, but as mentioned, it’s not exactly a good look.

With mandates such as the aforementioned, the enforcement will be coming from the state’s health department and not by police officers. How exactly that will flesh out is curious, to say the least, since there’s questions about what that enforcement will look like.

All that was really revealed is that the criminal courts are alleged to not be the route for infractions, according to Northam’s chief of staff Clark Mercer:

“The criminal code is not the place you want this enforced, there are tremendous equity issues with enforcing this that we’re cognizant of.”

The thoughts on forced masks are divided when seeing the response online, with a fair split of folks saying it’s a good idea and others saying it’s a bad idea. But the real question is, will it actually help in the long run?

Furthermore, the clamoring about face masks and the ilk are all said to stem from a position of ensuring public safety. Which begs the question of why dangerous criminals are being released from prison when the government is claiming they’re trying to keep people safe. 

A series of recently granted paroles of those convicted of some of the most heinous crimes has sparked outrage within not only the community, but with the family members of the victims impacted by the released offenders’ crimes.

Sources imply that these recent releases are all attributed to the pandemic.

Dwayne Markee Reid was one of the recent parolees released, who was responsible for the 1993 murder of Thomas Runyon.

The victim’s sisters, Kathy Ramage and Juanita Gillis, were both flabbergasted at the release of their brother’s killer.

Part of the shock was because they claimed to have never have been notified prior to his parole.

Gillis stated the following after learning about Reid’s release:

“I mean, good grief. What, they were never going to tell us and here we are thinking this killer is still in jail?”

Ramage mirrored that sentiment as well, stating the following:

“It made me livid. I was so upset. They didn’t even have the common courtesy to give any of my family members a call about his parole. We heard nothing.”

Ramage had found out about the release of her brother’s murderer by happening upon Reid’s newly acquired Facebook page:

“How do you like that?  He got out of prison, and now he’s got a Facebook living [his] life like [he] did nothing.”

Reid, who was freed from prison on April 17th, wasn’t the only notable violent criminal who is now a free man.

Patrick Schooley Jr. robbed, abducted, raped and stabbed to death 78-year-old Bessie Roundtree inside of her home back in 1979 when he was 15-years-old.

Johnathan Brinkley is the grandson of Roundtree, who was about the same age as Schooley when he murdered his grandmother.

Also having never been contacted prior to Schooley’s release, he feels as though his grandmother’s killer should have never been set free:

“The way I see it, an eye for an eye. He should stay behind bars, and should stay there until he dies.”

Suffolk Commonwealth’s Attorney Phil Ferguson views these recent releases as “atrocious” acts:

“These are the most violent serious crimes in Virginia, and they are releasing them with no input from the commonwealth’s attorney and no input from the victim’s family.”

Tonya Chapman, who was the former Portsmouth Police Chief, recently was appointed as the chairwoman of the parole board in April.

While these releases transpired after her appointment to the board, she stated that she wasn’t involved in the decisions for release:

“Although, I didn’t assume the position as Chair of the Virginia Parole Board until April 16, 2020, it is my understanding that in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, during the month of March and April, the Parole Board worked tirelessly to review all parole-eligible individuals and release those whose return to the community was compatible with the interests and welfare of society.”

While the ongoing COVID-19 fiasco seemingly had some influence in these releases, there are those who would argue that time served for the offenses was a significant factor in the consideration as well.

Shannon Ellis, who is an attorney with the Legal Aid Justice Center, stated that the notion of criticizing those granted parole solely for their original crimes isn’t a fair take:

“I think you have to ask a lot more questions … including how long that person had served, whether that person under any credible assessment would be considered a danger to the public, to what degree does keeping a person incarcerated during a crisis like this could that be giving them a death sentence?”

Instances related to parole, and board decisions, aren’t exactly easy fights.

Typically, when a parole board has their mind set on a release (or denial), statements from either the victims, their families, or even the convict in question, can seem like a fruitless endeavor in swaying a decision.

However, in instances like these, it’s important to keep in mind that parole boards are appointed positions that stem from someone within an elected position.

In times like these, remember to vote wisely come next election cycle.

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